Rep. Leger Fernández Opposes Recommendations To Close VA Health Clinics In Her District

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández

From the Office of U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández sent a letter to VA Secretary McDonough regarding her opposition to the recommended closing of the Gallup, Las Vegas, Raton and Española community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) in her district.

The Veterans Affairs Health Care System announced today that it sent its market assessment to the Assets and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission and recommended the closure of 4 CBOCs. Combined, these clinics serve 4,717 New Mexico veterans in largely rural areas.

“I have serious concerns about the recommended closures of several VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC) in my district,” Leger Fernández said. “It is our nation’s solemn obligation to provide veterans the health care, services, and support they have earned.  Unfortunately, these closures would jeopardize that obligation and make it harder for veterans to receive essential health services.”

“I have traveled to rural parts of my district to meet with veterans and heard how hard it is to get care. The commission clearly fails to understand that in our rural areas targeted for closures, there are insufficient health care providers in the community. Even more troubling is that these recommendations contradict the VA’s own findings from the local veteran stakeholder listening sessions it conducted as part of the report. This appears to say that the VA listened, but didn’t hear,” Leger Fernández added. “We must ensure every veteran has the care they need wherever they may live.”

Background: 

The Veteran Affairs (VA) Health Care System of New Mexico conducted a market assessment from 2019 to 2020 to analyze current health care system assets and infrastructures. This assessment compared the facilities to future projections to determine the access and services that VA will provide in the coming years. Today these recommendations were sent to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission. These recommendations would affect five of the district’s community-based outpatient clinics, and four of these eight clinics are targets for closure.

The Community Based Outpatient Clinics targeted for closure include:

  • The Gallup Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which serves 1,770 veterans
  • The Las Vegas Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which serves 1,084 veterans.
  • The Raton Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which serves 665 veterans.
  • The Espanola Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which serves 1,208 veterans.

The recommendations for VISN 22, which includes New Mexico, can be found HERE.

These recommendations, if implemented, will take effect in 2026. The AIR commission will offer guidance on the review process and public hearings.

The VA is following the below timeline for the process:

  • VA Submits List of Recommendations
  • Commission Reviews Recommendations
  • Commission Submits Recommendations to President
  • President Approves or Disapproves Recommendations
  • President Transmits Reasons for Disapproval
  • Commission Resubmits Recommendations
  • President Transmits Recommendations to Congress
  • 45 Days after President Transmits Recommendations: Deadline for Congress to Disapprove
  • Not Later than March 2026: VA Begins Implementing Recommendations
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